Mike Templeton of Casey’s Moves to NexChapter Advisory Firm

After 15 years in the convenience-store industry, he becomes vice president of digital strategy
Mike Templeton, NexChapter
Photograph courtesy of Mike Templeton, NexChapter

NexChapter, a convenience-store advisory firm, has hired Mike Templeton, former head of digital at Casey’s General Stores, as vice president of digital strategy. Templeton will partner with c-store clients as they seek to transform their businesses to compete in a digital age.

NexChapter is positioned to support the evolution in convenience retail by introducing tailored programs that adapt to the ever-changing needs of retailers. This includes supporting the continued investments in digital and technology, the growing importance of foodservice, engagement on the forecourt and emerging innovations such as artificial intelligence (AI) and retail media networks (RMNs).

Templeton has a 15-year history in the c-store industry, most recently at Casey’s, where he was responsible for the company’s digitized order ahead pizza business, as well as the Casey’s Rewards program he launched in 2020. When Templeton joined Casey’s team, about 20% of orders were coming through digital platforms, but when he left, it was closer to 85%, he told CSP.

It just shows, over 5 years, what companies can do when they capitalize on the consumer demand,” he said.

Before Casey’s, he led similar initiatives at Kum & Go, developing the company’s first mobile app and loyalty program, working with its point-of-sale provider and wrapping the other marketing technology trappings around that.

“It gave me a great opportunity to meet with a ton of manufacturers and consumer packaged goods within the space,” he said. “I got a nice well-rounded view from the beverage company to the snacking companies to the tobacco industry and even exposure to the fuel side of things. I think from an early point in my career, I got really excited about the convenience channel in total because of how dynamic it is and all of the different business models that are operating under one small roof.”

With NexChapter, Templeton is eager to address the digitization challenges that retailers face from an outside perspective, especially since he has experience in varying sized convenience-store formats.

The convenience-store industry is dynamic, he said, with a sizeable portion of single-store operators, plus large and medium chains.

“As NexChapter leans in, we've got to have a viewpoint that understands and is adaptable based on those different sizes of the businesses,” he said.

The ultimate c-store experience “is this world where people want what they want when they want it, how they want it,” he said. “And so much of that today is more than just the geography of where those stores are located. It's talking about this digital connectivity that consumers are looking for today. And the convenience that affords them of having this device in the palm of their hand where they're taps away from anything they could want. Convenience operators have a real opportunity to make sure that they're there and part of that conversation as consumers are looking for what's next.”

In addition to advising clients, Templeton will be leading an industry-wide digital assessment for NexChapter that evaluates c-store retailers’ current capabilities and overall digital maturity.

“Mike is an innovative leader in the industry, and we are excited to have him join the NexChapter team,” said Art Sebastian, CEO of NexChapter and chairman of the advisory board for the C-StoreTec platform, an initiative by CSP to build community and drive innovation and leadership within the convenience-store technology segment. “His experience leading digital transformation at one of the industry’s largest retailers is a testament to his work ethic and character. I look forward to serving clients alongside him.”

NexChapter aims to bring together experts and partners to put together a framework—an industry-wide digital assessment— because there’s “simply no benchmark out there for retailers in our space,” Templeton said.

“The industry has done a great job of sharing learnings and things like small groups and conferences, even reporting, like what happens at CSP,” he said. “But at times, it can be very difficult for retailers to understand what ‘good’ looks like without some sort of a resource like that. That's where we're really focused—looking at what capabilities are necessary to serve consumers in this modern day, and what does it look like for retailers in terms of milestones, capabilities, strategies, tactics, etc. in order to deliver on what consumers are demanding.”

Templeton offered a piece of advice to convenience-store retailers: be mindful of what customers are looking for specifically. Get to know customers beyond their transactions. For example, understand who they are, why they are shopping there and what they’re looking for help with.

Convenience is about selling time, speed, making things easier for people in their day to day,” he said. “We've seen the convenience retail industry evolve over previous decades, whether it was things like self-serve fuel, foodservice offerings or even things like digital order ahead and delivery. Retailers have to figure out what that means for them for their brand and for the consumers that they're serving if they're going to continue to be successful going into the future.”

Templeton is excited for the future, pointing out that it’s only been about 15 years since the iPhone launched, and there’s much more evolution in the digital space to come.

“When you think about where the market is headed in the future and the amount of opportunity out in front of the industry, certainly NexChapter as a firm, I think any retailer who's worried about having missed the boat on digital still has plenty of upside and opportunity in front of them.”

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